When authors discuss the different ways in which child to parent violence and abuse presents, it is common to include sexual abuse in the list; and yet it is difficult to find anywhere in the literature where this discussion is expanded. I know from conversations with adoptive families that the issue is very much alive, and extremely painful to discuss. While many families fear that a request for help will result in the instigation of a child protection investigation, this is an area where alarm bells will certainly be ringing straight away. How to respond though, in a way that maintains the safety of all involved, while not further traumatising either the young person or the parents, is rarely interrogated. A recent conversation with a friend undertaking a PhD at Bournemouth University has encouraged me that more information and greater discussion may be on the way!
For many people, talking about sex and sexualised behaviours can be very challenging—let alone discussing inappropriate sexualised behaviours. When we then add sexually inappropriate behaviours from an adolescent who is also violent towards their parents, it becomes impossible for many to even think about, let alone talk about. The potential consequence of this silence can add to further isolation, fear and guilt for those experiencing adolescent-to-parent violence and abuse (APVA).
In 2015, The UK Home Office published an information guide on APVA. It mentions adolescents who present with heightened sexualised behaviours as a risk factor sometimes present when working with APVA. However, the notion that adolescents may present sexually inappropriate behaviours towards their parents or that they may intimidate their parents, remains under-discussed. The question then arises, is it under-discussed because of rarity, or is it under-discussed because of the difficulty of understanding how this might occur?
I hope to address this problem in my PhD research currently under way.
Louise Oliver, PhD Student in Bournemouth University
I am thrilled to announce that I will be speaking about child to parent violence and abuse at the Community Care Live 2017 conference in London on September 26th, along with Al Coates. As one of the flagship social work events of the year, this is a real privilege, and it feels like an important milestone in the development of awareness and better support for families.
We will be presenting on why CPVA happens, and how to respond when a family seeks help.
- What research tells us about risk factors associated with child to parent violence, and what the most common ages are for abuse to start.
- How the abuse affects parents, and what they want from social workers and services.
- The different issues raised when child to parent abuse emerges as an issue for a child who has been adopted, or is in a foster care, kinship care or special guardianship placement.
- How social workers and services can support families experiencing violence or abuse.
Do come along and say hello (and hear us speak!) We have the early slot on the Tuesday, so no excuses!
It’s great to see a new book in the field of child to parent violence and abuse coming out later this year from Declan Coogan, who has driven the development of understanding and use of Non Violent Resistance in Ireland.
The book can be pre-ordered on Amazon now, or you can sign up to receive more information from the publisher, JKP, once it is available.
Addressing the under-reported issue of child to parent violence and abuse, this book presents the effective intervention method of Non-Violent Resistance. Tips for adapting the method, alongside case studies and downloadable forms make this an invaluable tool for practitioners working with affected families.
Providing an authoritative overview of the growing phenomena of child to parent violence – a feature in the daily life of increasing numbers of families – this book outlines what we know about it, what is effective in addressing it, and outlines a proven model for intervention.
Based on Non Violent Resistance (NVR), the model is founded on a number of key elements: parental commitment to non-violence, de-escalation skills, increased parental presence, engaging the support network and acts of reconciliation. The book outlines the theory and principles, and provides pragmatic guidance for implementing these elements, accompanied by case studies to bring the theory to life.
Declan was part of the team who worked on the pan-European RCPV project which reported in 2015; and continues to teach, train and develop the work within Ireland.
I was a bit surprised when this book first dropped through my letter box. I hadn’t offered to review it and so for a while it lay on a very tall pile of “books to read when I have some spare time”. But of course the title should have given it away…
If anyone was thinking that love is all that’s needed, or was tempted ever to say that “all kids do that”, then this is a book for them! Not that it’s all doom and gloom by any means. Adoption stories are statistically more often positive and affirming, but it is a sad fact that as many as a third of families will experience real struggles (see Beyond the Adoption Order) and Ann Morris quietly and without drama shows us both sides of the coin. Continue reading
One of the issues that makes it difficult for us all to talk about child to parent violence and abuse is the fact that there is no one agreed definition. The one I tend to use when speaking to people is that proposed by Amanda Holt:
“A pattern of behaviour, instigated by a child or young person, which involves using verbal, financial, physical and /or emotional means to practice power and exert control over a parent”, and “the power that is practised is, to some extent, intentional, and the control that is exerted over a parent is achieved through fear, such that a parent unhealthily adapts his / her own behaviour to accommodate the child.” Continue reading